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Public Servant or Self Servant? Former Congressman Reveals Depths of Establishment Corruption

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Ordinary Americans are starting to realize how corrupt and absurd the system really is. With each new administration, people get the privilege of discovering another layer of the hypocrisy within our society.

In almost every direction you look, there’s some of it. It’s a residual of living in a free society, so cherish it.

But this ascending public consciousness did not manifest itself overnight as a natural evolution of the American political psyche.

Instead, it’s been fueled by a desire to challenge the establishment status quo, enshrined by those in ivory tower newsrooms and the neoclassical halls of the U.S. Capitol.

Now, a new age of information has begun, and it’s ushering in a new era of ideas, discussion and news coverage.

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In contrast to traditional media, new media refers to the growing influence of any content delivered digitally — from newspaper articles to blogs, podcasts and social media networks — according to Southern New Hampshire University.

These mediums are the driving forces by which non-establishment thinkers can promote their ideas and give their perspective directly to the American people.

Whether it’s the rise of online newspapers, or direct subscription services such as Substack, or more broadly, the mounting power of podcasts, people now can access information and embark on that arduous journey to find truth more effectively.

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that more than 8 in 10  Americans receive their daily news intake from digital devices. Americans are moving away from established markets such as radio and print, and shifting toward the more lucrative and diverse online marketplace.

Is corruption a serious issue in Congress?

Subsequently, this shift slowly is eroding the establishment’s monopoly on news, narrative and information.

The established powers aren’t going to simply fade into the depths of history, however. They rely on each other — the relationship between the corporate press and the Washington establishment is symbiotic.

Consider the Feb. 22 letter sent by U.S. Reps. Anna G. Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, both of California, asking a score of media executives to implement censorship measures into their company rules.

Even if that letter was penned out of the goodness of their hearts, it’s fair to say that we should all be alarmed that the letter was even sent.

Even more chilling is the fact that most mainstream media outlets —  ranging from ABC, NBC and CBS to The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times or The Washington Post  — cared little to cover that Rep. Eric Swalwell of California had developed an intimate relationship with a known Chinese spy, according to the Washington Examiner.

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And if it weren’t for those pesky new-media resources, the American people would be denied the privilege to hear from a first-hand source about the complete idiocy and logrolling of Washington, D.C.

In a recent episode of Michael Malice’s podcast “Your Welcome,” former U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan exposed the state of Congress for all its follies, illuminating the theatrical game national lawmakers play on a daily basis.

“In Congress, generally, people do not care as much about legislation and policies as they do in House of Cards,” Amash, a 40-year-old Republican-turned-Libertarian, said on the podcast.

“In real life, it’s more superficial, like if they want to get it through, it’s because of some other motive — it’ll help with their election and they don’t really care about the details. The details don’t matter.”

“The point of the legislation is to drive a particular agenda; it’s not about writing good legislation.”

Americans might not be surprised to hear these claims, as most already believe corruption in Congress is a very serious or somewhat serious problem, according to a Gallup Poll. But Amash’s goal in entering the public sphere was to fight that corruption.

“A big part of the reason I got into politics was because I don’t like politicians. I always believed the system was corrupt, and I got into it to expose it,” said Amash, who didn’t run for re-election last year.

“So I wasn’t expecting all these high-minded people who are trying to do right for the public, or anything like that. It ended up being more corrupt and just more agenda driven than I expected.

“There just aren’t that many people who care about policies, or ideas, or a functional system.”

Only to make matters worse, lawmakers rarely compose legislation. Instead, they simply rubber stamp whatever policy the Washington establishment approves.

“We don’t even amend legislation anymore. There’s no amending legislation — it’s all handed to you, it’s top down. It’s very orchestrated. I would say that it’s mostly like some kind of entertainment programming for people.”

“It’s not really a representative democracy, or anything like that. It’s a show that is put on to give you the perception that there is a representative government. And that’s not what’s happening.”

For Amash, Congress wasn’t a place in which one could uphold or defend his or her personal convictions. If lawmakers didn’t conform to the party line, they would be punished.

“I was getting kicked off of committees just for not toeing the line. Like, I didn’t vote with Paul Ryan enough, so I’d get kicked off a committee.”

That isn’t the only inane tactic that the Washington establishment uses to procure obedience.

“They’ll basically black-list you if you go against the leadership. That largely means the lobbyists stop dealing with you; they’re not going to send you a PAC check. They’re not going to hold a fundraiser for you.”

“Your committee assignments will be bad or you’ll get pulled. I mean by the end of it, I didn’t have any committees. I left Congress with no committees.”

“Another thing they demand of you is to donate money to the party, and if you don’t donate money to the party, you also get screwed on the committees, and in other ways. They will not invite you to dinners.”

Amash’s description of Congress paints the picture that it’s a fairly vestigial branch of government, which resembles the makings of a popular teen drama show. But the lengths to which Congress goes to maintain its public image is unnerving.

“It really is scripted. Like literally, committee hearings, the high-profile ones, when you watch ones of these big committee hearings that like CNN or Fox News is covering — they say we’re going to have a committee hearing — those things are literally scripted. Like, you are handed a script the day before and told to read the script and not to stray from it.”

While few members of Congress get elevated to the privileged status of political performer, the majority of lawmakers are simply rank-and-file party members, with little drive to create innovative solutions to modern day problems.

For those members, “They’re in it because it’s a good gig, they get paid well, and they don’t really have to think. So they follow the script, they do what they’re told, and the paycheck comes in and they get re-elected.”

These are America’s national lawmakers. Though a few may be working hard for their district, the culture of Congress is truly toxic.

“There’s not really a point in having a representative system of government if you can’t actually represent people,” Amash noted.

Congress is designed to be America’s strongest branch of government. It’s intended to be that way because it offers the best means to secure liberty, protect rights and expand opportunity and prosperity to ordinary people.

This is the very reason why it shares predominant control of the power of the purse; the investigation and oversight power; the impeachment power; the war powers; the treaty and diplomacy powers; and a myriad of other vested powers “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution and foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or Officer thereof.”

Woodrow Wilson advised that “The whole purpose of democracy is that we may hold counsel with one another, so as not to depend upon the understanding of one man.”

He never lived up to these wise words, but they do offer great insight.

Our lawmakers ought to value their role as representatives of the people and strive, day in and day out, to serve their office with honesty.

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Brett Kershaw is an associate staff writer for The Western Journal. A graduate of Virginia Tech with bachelor of arts degrees in political science and history, he is a published author who often studies political philosophy and political history.
Brett Kershaw is an associate staff writer for The Western Journal. A graduate of Virginia Tech with bachelor of arts degrees in political science and history, he is a published author who often studies political philosophy and political history.




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